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How Drake London fits with the Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons take the big-bodied wide receiver with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

For the second year in a row, the Terry Fontenot/Arthur Smith regime drafted a big-bodied receiving weapon for the offense. Last year, it was tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick. This year, it was wide receiver Drake London with the No. 8 overall pick. London was the first receiver taken off the board on Thursday night.

The Falcons came into the 2022 NFL Draft needing wide receivers. Along with edge rushers, the position was one of the most coveted groups for the Falcons to rebuild this offseason.

With Calvin Ridley suspended for the 2022 season and Russell Gage off to Tampa Bay in free agency, the Falcons were without a WR1. They brought back Olamide Zaccheaus as off-season programs began last week, and signed Auden Tate to a one-year deal last month. Frank Darby still remained within the position group, too, from the year before. But even with these decisions, the Falcons were without a true No. 1 target at wide receiver for the first time since - arguably - before the Roddy White era in Atlanta. Now, it goes without saying that London will take over that moniker in this new Falcons era with the days gone of White, Julio Jones and - perhaps - Ridley.

He'll join this core group of receivers with Zaccheaus, Tate and Darby, yes, but more importantly, London joins an offense with Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson as offensive weapons, too. This gives recently acquired quarterback Marcus Mariota a few quality options in the pass game.

"Me and Kyle," London said in his press conference on draft night, "could be something special."

Furthermore, London fits the mold of what Smith was looking for this offseason. The head coach and offensive play caller needed a wide receiver who could take a hit and keep trucking, a YAC bro, if you will. London is that, with The Athletic's Dane Brugler writing in his 2022 NFL Draft Guide that "college defensive backs didn't want to tackle him" and "he provides YAC skills thanks to his toughness and ability to stay afloat."

In college, London's sheer size created matchup problems for opposing defenses. More so, his movements are smooth, and his basketball background serves him well on the move and in the air. Coaches and teammates have said his work ethic, particularly in practice, is unmatched.

If Smith could have created a wide receiver in the lab that fit what he wanted - and needed - for his offense in 2022 and in years to come, London is that creation.


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